How Broken Equipment Can Break Your Health Club

Don’t let ‘Out of Order’ become ‘Out of Business.’

  • September 17, 2018

On top of the list of things that annoy health club members is encountering an unoccupied machine with a sign saying, “out of order.” One popular article from Men’s Journal titled “10 Reasons to Dump Your Gym” listed “broken equipment not getting fixed in time” at No. 1.

Chronic machine failures can cost you more than poor member satisfaction—injury on faulty equipment is a major liability you can’t risk. Of course, there’s no way to avoid equipment breakdowns. Machines malfunction no matter how proficient you are at maintaining them. It’s how often it happens and how quickly it’s repaired that make a difference. This is why staying on top of equipment maintenance is one of the most important requirements for a club operator.

You can’t risk too much downtime. According to the 2017 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, “equipment utilization was the No. 1 activity at health clubs, as more than half of members indicated using either cardio machines (62.3%) or weights/resistance tools (53.2%).” Equipment is just as important in small group or specialty training as well. The IHRSA Health Club Equipment Report reveals that more than 80% of clubs incorporate equipment in training programs.

But breakdowns are going to happen, especially if you have a high-traffic club. Today’s equipment is tougher than ever, but it’s also more technologically complex. Having more features and moving parts mean more things can go wrong. Cardio equipment—particularly treadmills—are the most vulnerable for the simple reason they’re used more often than other machines.

Equipment Treadmill 18Cv Column

IHRSA research says that 44% of gymgoers reported using a treadmill.

If you’re like most club owners, equipment is your largest cost. The IHRSA Health Club Equipment Report found that nearly half of clubs’ equipment spending (45.9%) is devoted to cardio machines.

You need to protect your investment and maintain customer satisfaction. You need to keep “out of order” signs off the floor.

Treadmill Triage: A Case Study

Treadmills are still the king of cardio machines. IHRSA research says that 44% of gymgoers reported using a treadmill. And nothing gets worn down and abused more than treadmills, particularly the running/walking belts and the deck platform that absorb every footfall.

Anticipating equipment breakdown can be an advantage both in reducing downtime and fixing the machine before the problems get worse. One common—and inevitable—treadmill malfunction is a worn-out belt. At some point, you’re going to have to replace it.

How do you know when a treadmill belt is ready for replacement? Here are five things to look for when evaluating maintenance needs.

  1. Check exterior belt appearance: Some belts look worse than they are, but discoloration, deep cracks, and fraying edges are a bad sign.
  2. Check the mileage: You should have some idea how often the machine has been used without its belt being changed. How long is too long? Mileage varies, as they say, with some experts claiming that some commercial machines can last 20,000 miles if maintained properly. Which brings us to …
  3. Check the maintenance schedule: Are your treadmills regularly cleaned and lubricated? It goes without saying that high traffic clubs should keep their most popular machines well-serviced to minimize breakdown.
  4. Check the bottom of the belt: If the belt is rough underneath, torn, frayed, or sticks occasionally, it may need to be replaced.
  5. Check for slipping. When in operation, does the belt slip, appear loose, or exhibit sluggish movement? Then it’s in trouble.
Equipment Tread Belt Column

There are many signs of a worn-out treadmill belt.

Usually, a member will let you know if he or she feels a slipping or sticking sensation on machines, so make sure you have a system in place with your employees when they receive complaints from members. Take these complaints seriously.

It’s also likely that if one belt is bad, most of the other ones are, too. You can’t take a chance of having multiple treadmills going offline at the same time.

How to Tighten Your Belts, in More Ways Than One

Since minimizing liability risk and pleasing members require a cardio floor in top working condition, you don’t want to play a guessing game with your equipment. The best solution is a partner who can provide technical support along with replacement parts—and do it reliably without breaking the bank.

SPORTSMITH has been serving the health club industry for 23 years as one of the top providers of parts and services for health club equipment of all types. With an existing inventory of over 100,000 parts for major brands, SPORTSMITH can service just about any line of equipment you’ve heard of and many you haven’t. SPORTSMITH has provided essential parts, five-star customer service, and expert technical support to thousands of fitness facilities nationwide. And for those nervous about dissatisfied members becoming upset with lingering machine malfunctions, SPORTSMITH offers express, same-day order shipments.

Some of SPORTSMITH’s signature parts include their selection of treadmill walking/running belts, which, like all of their parts and accessories, is aggressively priced and available with same-day shipping. Not only will they triage your treadmill, SPORTSMITH has the most extensive selection of replacement parts, fitness products, strength equipment, and a full range of gym supplies. That’s across-the-board service for those looking for a one-stop shop for their equipment needs. SPORTSMITH’s website has everything you need, maybe except “out of order” signs. But you shouldn’t be needing those anymore.

Related Articles & Publications